Money has changed family member for the worse

Dear Annie: My wife of more than 31 years recently passed away. She had three children from a previous marriage. We had none. She left behind a large sum of money from her savings and IRA for them. Her eldest son has a mental condition, and most of his needs are met by the state of New York and Social Security. Her youngest son has an intermittent drug problem. Her middle son conned us by acting like the responsible son. She trusted him to look after his two brothers and to split all her money equally and empowered the middle son to act as her agent after she was gone.

I had begun to be suspicious of him when, as she was dying, he took an unhealthy interest in her finances. Long story short, right after she passed away, he looted all her accounts for himself, telling his younger brother that she left no money for anyone. Surprisingly, my wife’s sister (a real loser, as it turned out) backed up this lie.

I set him straight, showing him exactly what she had left behind for all three of her sons. Unfortunately, nothing can be done. This is a warning to anyone who feels they can trust someone when it comes to money. Money changes people. I advise all people with significant funds to be disbursed to then set up a trust and appoint an impartial executor or trustee. My wife is probably spinning so much in her urn it that looks like a cyclone in there. — Husband of the Betrayed.

Dear Husband: I appreciate your sharing your wisdom; I’m just sorry it was so hard-earned. How terrible to lose your beloved partner of more than 30 years and then watch the ones she trusted behave in such disappointing ways.

It’s worth consulting an attorney, if you haven’t already, to verify that there isn’t anything that can be done. Whatever the outcome, your dishonest stepson is the lesser for it. Those who put money before family will never know what it is to truly be rich in the way that counts. I am so sorry for your loss.